“We need to start preparing for any possibility. If the Games can’t be held in the summer, a delay of one or two years would be most feasible”
A delay of one or two years would be the ‘most feasible’ option if the Tokyo Olympics cannot be held this year due to the global outbreak of the coronavirus, a member of the organising committee’s executive board told the media.
But the head of the Tokyo 2020 organising committee quickly dismissed any suggestion of a delay, saying his team was not considering any change in plan and Haruyuki Takahashi, the official who raised the possibility of a postponement, had apologised for the ‘outrageous’ suggestion.
Takahashi, one of more than two dozen members of the Tokyo 2020 executive board, said earlier the board had just started looking at scenarios for how the virus could affect the Games, and a delay was one possibility.
Organisers have been pushing a consistent message that the Games would not be cancelled or postponed, but sponsors who have pumped in billions of dollars have grown increasingly nervous about how the coronavirus outbreak will impact the event.
Takahashi said that the financial damage from cancelling the Games or holding them without spectators would be too great, while a delay of less than a year would clash with other major professional sports schedules.
“We need to start preparing for any possibility. If the Games can’t be held in the summer, a delay of one or two years would be most feasible,” Takahashi said.
But organising committee head Yoshiro Mori later said there was no thought of changing the plan for the Games and that they would open as scheduled on July 24.
“It is our basic stance that we press ahead with preparation for a safe and secure Olympics,” Mori told reporters at a hastily arranged evening briefing.
“Therefore we are not at all thinking about changing courses or plans.”
Japan has had nearly 1 300 cases of the coronavirus, including about 700 from a cruise ship that was quarantined near Tokyo last month. – Reuters